The TV Ratings are in for the USFL 2023 Championship Game On NBC. The USFL scored its highest individual game rating of the season since Week 4. However, the viewership numbers were down significantly from last year’s title game.
USFL 2023 Championship Game TV Rating On NBC (Per NBC/Nielsen)
Saturday, July 1st’s USFL Championship Game saw the Birmingham Stallions repeat as league champs defeating the Pittsburgh Maulers 28-12. The telecast averaged 1.157 million viewers on NBC. It was the league’s best viewership total since Week 4’s Memphis Showboats-Michigan Panthers on the same network. (2.063 million). The game scored a 0.16 in the key 18-49 demographic.
Per NBC: The championship game averaged 1.2 million viewers across NBC, Peacock, and NBC Sports Digital Platforms.
The 2023 championship is the second USFL game this past season to average over a million viewers. However, this year’s viewership performance is down significantly from the USFL 2022 Championship game on FOX between the Birmingham Stallions and Philadelphia Stars, which averaged 1.517 million viewers.
USFL Championship Game Rating Analysis
It’s challenging to come up with a positive spin on the ratings for the 2023 USFL Championship Game.
The USFL’s viewership numbers were down across the board from last season. The league struggled to generate added interest and build upon its inaugural season in 2022. Even the lure of a championship game didn’t draw in the type of boost sports leagues typically get for their title game.
The increase in over-the-air network games, along with the added promotion across two major networks, and stabilized weekend time slots, didn’t aid the USFL in seeing growth in year two.
There’s definitely enough evidence now of a limited ceiling for viewership. For this specific product.
Overall, in the landscape, the numbers are passable. Depending on your perspective. But the lack of growth and added interest for the USFL in year two is troublesome.
Finding ways to draw in casual and mainstream sports fans has always been a challenge for these entities. No matter the quality of the football or the broadcasts themselves.
On a positive note, the USFL, as expected, will be back for season three.
As a lifelong advocate of non-NFL pro football leagues and the benefits derived from their existence in the landscape, having a season three for a spring pro football league is a victory.
The challenge becomes finding a way to accomplish what the USFL didn’t in 2022 in terms of increasing its popularity and product awareness.
Quite frankly, the USFL is seeing a year three because of its low-risk financial model. But in order for the league to have sustainable success. They need to find a way to connect with fans who have ignored the product, specifically with their teams that carry the namesake of cities but do not play in their markets.
It’s beating a dead horse at this point. But the bottom line is that the lack of an in-stadium atmosphere has an impact on the USFL’s TV and overall product. It’s hurt perception and has affected attendance, viewership, and interest in teams with the namesakes of their cities who don’t reside there.
People in Pittsburgh and New Jersey barely know that the Maulers and Generals exist. Because they don’t have a connection with their cities, their existence is a hollow one until that changes.
Despite the USFL’s best efforts and desires to place all their teams in their markets, The league hasn’t been able to shift from its low-cost Hub concept. The failure of being able to sell their league and teams to fans and cities is what has held the league back.
After two years, the USFL still seems like an incomplete product. Perhaps, that will change over time. But until it becomes a fully-fledged traditional pro sports league with all teams in their actual markets. The pattern of year two will repeat itself in year three.
2023 USFL TV Ratings By Week (Average Viewership, Per Nielsen)
- FOX: Philadelphia Stars-Memphis Showboats: 837,000
- FOX: Birmingham Stallions-New Jersey Generals: 864,000
- NBC: Michigan Panthers-Houston Gamblers: 974,000
- FS1: New Orleans Breakers-Pittsburgh Maulers: 483,000
Average viewership: 789,500
- USA: New Orleans Breakers-Houston Gamblers: 133,000
- FOX: Birmingham Stallions-Memphis Showboats: 798,000
- NBC: Pittsburgh Maulers- New Jersey Generals: 725,000
- USA: Michigan Panthers-Philadelphia Stars: 211,000
Average viewership: 466,750
- USA: New Orleans Breakers-Birmingham Stallions: 293,000
- FOX: Memphis Showboats- Houston Gamblers: 776,000
- NBC: Philadelphia Stars-Pittsburgh Maulers: 761,000
- FOX: Michigan Panthers-New Jersey Generals: 563,000
Average viewership: 598,250
- FOX: Philadelphia Stars-Houston Gamblers: 521,000
- NBC: Memphis Showboats-Michigan Panthers: 2,063,000
- NBC: New Jersey Generals-New Orleans Breakers: 828,000
- FS1: Birmingham Stallions-Pittsburgh Maulers: 545,000
Average viewership: 989,250
- USA: Pittsburgh Maulers-Michigan Panthers: 256,000
- FOX: Birmingham Stallions-Houston Gamblers: 914,000
- NBC: Philadelphia Stars-New Jersey Generals: 757,000
- FOX: New Orleans Breakers-Memphis Showboats: 563,000
Average viewership: 622,500
- USA: Pittsburgh Maulers-Memphis Showboats: 227,000
- FOX: Birmingham Stallions-Michigan Panthers: 732,000
- FS1: Philadelphia Stars-New Orleans Breakers: 217,000
- FOX: Houston Gamblers-New Jersey Generals: 630,000
Average viewership: 451,500
- FOX: Birmingham Stallions-New Orleans Breakers: 703,000
- FS1: Philadelphia Stars-Pittsburgh Maulers: 161,000
- USA: Houston Gamblers-Memphis Showboats: 251,000
- FS1: New Jersey Generals-Michigan Panthers: 274,000
Average viewership: 347,520
- USA: Pittsburgh Maulers-Houston Gamblers: 228,000
- NBC: Philadelphia Stars-Birmingham Stallions: 747,000
- FOX: New Jersey Generals-Memphis Showboats: 720,000
- FOX: New Orleans Breakers-Michigan Panthers: 774,000
Average viewership: 617,250
- FOX: Michigan Panthers-Pittsburgh Maulers: 700,000
- NBC: New Orleans Breakers-Memphis Showboats: 617,000/531K delay (CNBC: 47,000)
- NBC: Birmingham Stallions-Houston Gamblers: 665,000
- FOX: Philadelphia Stars-New Jersey Generals: 903,000
Average viewership: 721,250 (Not counting the delay or CNBC portion)
- USA: Pittsburgh Maulers-New Jersey Generals: 240k
- FOX: Birmingham Stallions-Memphis Showboats: 636k
- FS1: New Orleans Breakers-Houston Gamblers: 167k
- FOX: Philadelphia Stars-Michigan Panthers: 720k
Average viewership: 438,250
USFL 2023 Regular Season Ratings Average: 604,425
Through the first ten weeks of the USFL 2023 regular season, 26 of the league’s 40 games aired on FOX/NBC. The other fourteen aired on cable. Here is the average viewership for each network heading into the playoffs.
- FOX- (17 games): 726k (886k in 2022)
- NBC-(9 games): 904k (1.13 million in 2022)
- FS1- (6 games): 307k (284k in 2022)
- USA- (8 games): 229k (334k in 2022)
USFL 2023 Divisional Playoffs
- NBC: Pittsburgh Maulers-Michigan Panthers (8 pm ET): 957k
- FOX: Birmingham Stallions-New Orleans Breakers (7 pm ET): 852k
Average viewership: 904,500
USFL 2023 Championship Game
- NBC: Birmingham Stallions-Pittsburgh Maulers (8 pm ET): 1.157 million viewers
Playoff average: 988,667